At the time of the 2010 World Cup I was asked whether I would be prepared to organise an in-school football tournament to run concurrently. I replied that while I would not be prepared to organise one, I was more than happy to facilitate it. And so, in the hands of a group of Year Six children who managed the organisation (writing letters to the Friends to persuade them to buy trophies etc.) logistics (fixture list etc.) and maths (league tables; points; goal differences etc.) incredibly, a week-long competition was born, gathered momentum and reached a genuinely tense, dramatic and memorable finale.
The premise for the tournament was very simple for a two-form entry junior school:
1. Eight members of staff were recruited to manage a team each.
2. ‘Squads’ of sixteen players comprised of two boys and two girls from each year group were given to each ‘manager’.
3. The eight teams were split into two groups of four with each team playing the others in their group once in a mini-league.
4. Matches were seven minutes each way and played, two every day, at lunchtime.
5. On Friday lunchtime, the two group winners and runners-up played one another in semi-finals and then…
6. The big one… The World Cup Final. On Friday afternoon, school shut down. Everybody abandoned their posts and gathered on the field to watch New Zealand v. Algeria (!). Parents were invited; governors were in the crowd; and children and staff got truly behind the two teams. The result was a crowd of several hundred, an amazing atmosphere and a match that went beyond full time; through extra-time; and then saw New Zealand triumph in sudden-death penalty shoot out.
It was talked about throughout the school for weeks after.
Last week, I was asked would I be prepared to organise an in-school World Cup 2014 tournament. Again, I’m leaving it to the children- last time they created something magical.